A Special Mother and Daughter

(by Oldie and Better, 03 April 2002)

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Special Mother and Daughter 

By Oldie and Better 

Just off the courthouse square in my hometown is a parking lot. Much of it 
is coated with asphalt, but a big area in the center is concrete. Sawed off 
pipes, even some old floor tiles remains. 

At what could be the entrance to a building is the word Locker embedded in 
ceramic tile. 

That was the entrance to Locker's Grocery Store. It was an entrance I 
passed many time but never as often as the summer after my sophomore year 
when I worked for the store. 

I worked for Locker's grocery, which was already losing business to a new 
supermarket in town. 

Maury Locker was the last of three generations of Lockers to run the store. 
His grandfather had passed but Harold Locker, Maury's dad, still came to 
work daily. He looked things over and then headed to the golf course most 

I was stock boy, sacker and occasional deliver boy. 

Mr. Locker was manager and delivery man. Credit and delivery were keeping 
him afloat in those days. Mr. Locker really didn't like having a teen-age 
boy running loose with his company pickup. 

At first I thought it would be great to drive through town daily. But was 
even more interesting to stay behind. Amy, who had completed her freshman 
year at the University of Texas, was the lead person on the register for the 

Her mother, Linda, floated around to some bookkeeping, helping me with the 
pricing and stocking and helping Amy with checking out, especially between 
5 and 7 p.m. daily and on Saturday. 

Of course, the store was closed on Sunday. For years, Maury and Linda 
worked the 12 hours, six days a week. Their only break was two weeks around 
Christmas when Maury's parents took over the mom and pop operation. 

Maury hardly missed a minute when the store was open. Linda missed few. 
Amy, summer relief for regular cashier Bessie Porter, was lucky to get in 
40 hours. 

One of the interesting things about the job was to see who smoked what. 
There were few surprises among the women buying cigarettes or even having 
them delivered. 

Inside the store I was beginning to get an eyeful. Amy had become a smoker 
at UT and was halfway telling her parents. She told her mother. 

Now Linda, Mrs. Locker, seemed to always have a cigarette lit when I was 
younger. She quit about five years ago. "I quit so you wouldn't start," 
Mrs. Locker said. Amy had no response. Linda Locker never told her husband. 

Before June was over, the air had cleared and the store was consumed with 
the smell of cigarette smoke provided by an additional smoker. 

Before long, Mrs. Locker decided to have one of Amy's Kents. That Monday 
was slow and Mrs. Locker joined Amy for a smoke three times. 

Things went that way for the entire week. When Mr. Locker left and when the
store was clear, which was often, Mrs. Locker would light up. When a customer
came in, a she would head to the stockroom. Smoking was allowed in the store
anyway so there was less to mask. 

On Saturdays, Mr. Locker stayed in the store to help out. There were no 
deliveries. That didn't seem to bother Mrs. Locker, at least not the first 
weekend after her return to smoking. She was also jovial Sunday when she 
attended the same Baptist Church we attended. 

I later learned that Maury spent some of Sunday afternoon at the store. 
Linda and Amy spent some time in the back yard smoking. 

By the second weekend of her smoking, I could tell that Linda's patience 
was wearing thin. Late in the day that second Saturday, when Mr. Locker 
took the groceries out for a customer, I overheard Linda telling Amy that 
she was going to be (s-word) if she would go through another (f-word) 
Saturday without at least a pack of cigarettes. It was hardly like Linda to 
cuss. Linda did not come to church that Sunday but Maury and Amy did. 

The matter was still not completely settled Monday as Linda and Amy 
discussed the solution. "I'll just tell him I returned to smoking," Linda 

"Where will that leave me," Amy asked. "I mean I've been smoking a year and 
you've only been smoking about two weeks." 

That plea was falling on deaf ears. "I smoked for 20-something years," 
Linda said. "When you start back, it's like riding a bicycle, you never 
forget how." 

Amy was thinking what I was thinking. "Twenty-something years and been quit 
five. Depending on what that something is, you started a lot sooner than 

Her mother laughed. "I've smoked a lot of years already. Better for you to 
start later and smoke less." 

Not long after Mr. Locker returned, Amy lit up. 

Mr. Locker came out of his office when he saw the activity. "So, you're a 
smoker now," he said. 

"Yes, dad, I am. Started in college. I think that was pretty good to wait 
that long." Mr. Locker surprised us by calling his wife into his office. 
The door was closed. 

"Oh, s=word," Amy said. Only the arrival of a customer ended the 
conversation between us. 

There was never any shouting from the office. In a few minutes, Linda came 
out and went straight toward the cash register, reached overhead and came 
up with a Marlboro. "I've decided to go back to smoking," Linda said. 

That was that. By the end of summer, Linda was up to her old total of two 
packs a day. Amy was close behind. 

The store barely lasted past my high school graduation. The Lockers sold 
the store and the big lot across the street that was sometimes needed for a 
parking lot and bought a liquor store in a town not too far away. 

A bigger supermarket came in and used the old store lot for parking. 

With what was left the Lockers bought the liquor store. They still run the 
liquor store and live in town. To this day, I have never again seen Linda 
Locker go very long without a cigarette. 

Amy, well, she's a flight attendant and can be seen smoking her mothers' 
brand, Marlboro 100s. Amy, who once said aid her mother's announcement plan 
wouldn't fly, is now flying herself. She's taken time to have three 
children, the oldest a daughter of 14. Sons are 11 and five. You probably 
aren't surprised but her husband is an orthopedic surgeon in a big city. 

Only the entry way of the old store is obvious but I would have to think 
that there are some stains on the remaining floor tiles where the Locker 
ladies stomped out their cigarette butts.

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